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Eye On Boise

Health group warns of individual mandate repeal’s impact in Idaho

Close the Gap Idaho is speaking out against the GOP tax plan’s repeal of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, saying new data estimates 74,000 Idahoans would lose their health insurance as a result.

“Eliminating the requirement to purchase health coverage without a broader plan in place would significantly weaken the individual insurance market, leading to higher premiums with fewer choices and more Americans without insurance,” said Luke Cavener, Idaho government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Our lawmakers must take strong, bipartisan steps to strengthen our current health care system, not weaken it.”

The group said the repeal of the individual mandate would result not only in millions losing health insurance – the Congressional Budget Office estimates 13 million people nationwide – but also would increase the cost of coverage for everyone else. That’s because the mandate is designed to keep markets stable, allowing lower costs for insured patients. Removing the mandate could cause instability in the health insurance market that the CBO estimates could lead to premium increases of 10 percent and higher out of pocket costs.

Close the Gap Idaho is a broad coalition of health care stakeholders in Idaho, including representatives of providers, consumers, advocates, clergy, charities and more. The group began by advocating to close Idaho’s health coverage gap, which leaves roughly 78,000 without affordable care options because the state hasn’t expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act; it has continued to study and advocate for ways to improve health care in the state.

Another group, Reclaim Idaho, has launched a petition drive for a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho; the group is now gathering signatures statewide.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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